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Homemade Summer Fun with Children

Guest post by Jaimi Erickson at The Stay-at-Home-Mom Survival Guide

Playing outdoors is one way for my children to explore God in their lives. Children in concrete stages of development love to explore by doing and outdoor time allows for so much exploration and learning. My children are ‘outdoor kids’, large motor machines. They need to get outside in order to keep their spirits in balance-I need that too. Thankfully summer provides a multitude of outdoor time for fun-and learning.

Having a 4-year old and a 15-month old allows me to bridge activities for two different skill levels, but two always-eager participants in any homemade ‘game’!  Some summer climates limit how many hours can be spent outside in a day. When we experience temps reaching 100+degrees, or afternoon downpours, we need to adapt our outdoor plan to work inside. This list of activities can be taken outdoors, but will work inside as well.  These are quick to create, low-to-no-cost (my mantra), and although are written with a preschooler in mind, I have noted how they can be adapted for younger ones.

1. Homemade Hopscotch Fun

On a rainy day, I used duct tape to create a hopscotch pattern on the back of a yoga mat. In about 10 minutes we had a new game to play that allowed us to burn some energy! We used homemade bean bags to toss. This game reinforced number recognition, exercised eye-hand coordination, and allowed for some gross motor movement to burn energy and work on balance.

[Adaptation:  I encouraged my toddler to step on the numbers and then I named them, or she tossed a beanbag and I identified on which number the bag landed.]

2. Homemade Bean Bags and Games

I made bean bags with scrap fabric, dry beans, and some quick stitches on the sewing machine.  They provided so much indoor (or outdoor) fun. We played “Simon Says”. (i.e. “Simon Says” put the bean bag on your head.”) We sang “Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes” and placed the bean bag on each part.  We tossed them into a laundry basket from different distances (marked by masking tape on the floor). We each took turns hiding one bag in order to let each other seek it out. We worked on teamwork, large motor movement and vocabulary.

[Adaptation: I made bean bags in primary colors, so they could be used for color recognition. My young toddler LOVES learning to identify new body parts, so I placed the bean bag on her head, shoulder, arm, etc. while I said the name of each part to help reinforce this learning.]

3. Drop Cloth Painting Canvas

My children love art and creating artwork to send to the grandparents, so I am always looking for new materials to explore within our budget. I found an inexpensive drop cloth and cut it in quarters. This can be pinned to a wall, lightly nailed or clamped to a fence outdoors, or taped to a window inside to allow for a large painting surface. (I wanted to do this outside, but it rained so we improvised indoors!) Increasing the surface area where they could paint, and pinning the canvas up, involved more gross motor movement and added interest.

[Adaptation: My toddler painted on the lower half while my preschooler painted near the top so they were separate by working together.]

4. Packing Peanut Snow

We live in a hot climate in the southeast. Recently our electricity was out for 48 hours during high temperatures. We needed to do anything to feel cooler. Foam packing peanuts as pretend snow were a hit in our home! My daughter and son enjoyed scooping them, piling them up, and making snow angels while laying in them on the dining room rug. What a great pretend play scenario on a hot day-play like it is cold! Just ‘thinking cold’ and ‘playing in the snow’ of the packing peanuts helped ease our cabin fever. We dropped them from above our heads and tried to catch the ‘snow flakes’ as they fell. They can even be thrown and caught allowing for more muscle movement and exercise.

All of the activities I create are based on observations of my children combined with what they need to learn as they grow to be godly individuals. There are so many ways we can add interest to our time in God’s creation outdoors-or spend our time together while playing inside depending on what the weather will allow. My first ministry mission is to my family. My children want my attention more than anything.  When I combine teaching skills with activities that feed their interests in an intentional way, we have fun whether during a rainy ‘indoor day’ or an outside day in the sun.

Jaimi Erickson is a woman living in service to God’s mission. She ministers daily to her husband and two children as a stay-at-home mom and homemaker. She formerly served as a teacher in the Early Childhood field.  Jaimi shares motivation for stay-at-home-moms, household tips, and developmentally appropriate make-at-home activities for infants and up on her blog The Stay-At-Home-Mom Survival Guide.

Comments { 8 }

Tucking Them in With Truth: Scripture Memory with Little Ones

My desire is that my children would come to love and uphold the truth of Scripture in their precious hearts from their infancy. My prayer is that we might plant seeds of the gospel in their tender souls so they would desire to walk closely with Christ. I want to be able to memorize Scripture together with my children – combining storing truth in my heart and in their hearts at the same time. But how can this be done in a doable simple manner?

I was recently reading, Shaping of A Christian Family, by Elisabeth Elliot, and was inspired by her mother’s writing in the introduction with this simple challenge:

“I found that simply repeating Psalms 23 each night to Jim after he was tucked in bed was a painless way of implanting this beautiful song of David in his heart and mind. Winthin a week he was beginning to say it with me, and it was part of the going-to-bed ritual. As he mastered Psalms 23, we added other Scripture.

In teaching young children, it is well to remember the words in Isaiah 28:10, ‘For precept must be upon precept, line upon line, here a little and there a little.‘ It is thus our patient God has dealt with us; and so we must deal with our little ones, repeating often the Word of God so that it will be hidden in their hearts so they will ‘not sin against God’.”

Scripture memory doesn’t have to be complex and overwhelming. It simply requires repetition. I think the key here for me was the idea of simply adding it to one of our other regular routines – bedtime! We already have a regular bedtime routine established which helps settle the little ones down for the night in a peaceful manner. Why not follow the challenge to just read an adopted portion of Scripture for memory work during this time?

In this past month, we started our bedtime routine with reading a passage of Scripture, followed by a bedtime story, before tucking them in with a goodnight prayer. We began with Psalms 23 as Elliot’s mother had suggested. We read it multiple times a week for a two week period. It took maybe 5 minutes of time. We all just listened as I read it twice. In just two weeks, I was blown away at how both my 5 and 3 year old had memorized it completely.

I knew my 5 year old could do it as we have memorized a fair amount before…but hadn’t tested my 3 year old son. I finally randomly asked him if he wanted to share it. With great speed and fluency (even more solidly presented than his older sister), my little guy recited all six verses in rapid time. It was such an encouragement to my soul. These precious souls are listening. Their hearts and minds are ready to be filled with truth and they can memorize more than we can imagine. Since completing Psalms 23, we have memorized The Lord’s Prayer as well as Psalms 1 through this simple habit of reading a chosen portion of Scripture before bed.

Titus would like to share with you Psalms 23…May you be blessed today and encouraged that it is possible to  hide God’s Word in your hearts as a family and in this way prepare your hearts to continue following hard after Him. I share this as an encouragement to all of us that God will reward your faithfulness!

If you can’t view the video, click here.

{Photo Credit}

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Kindergarten At Our Home

I am so excited to officially begin Kindergarten this year at our home with my sweet daughter, Karis, who is now 5 years old. After much prayer, I have made some decisions as to how we will approach this new year. My foremost goal is that my children would love to learn and that our home environment would be a place of joyful learning in all areas of life – from nature play to baking in the kitchen to doing our daily chores. I am passionate that my children would have hearts to know and love the Lord and desire to serve him all the days of their life, so character study and Scripture studies are high on the priority list. But I also desire that these beginning years would be full of good memory work in history, language, poetry, and Scripture memory. These are the years when they can memorize like crazy and retain wonderful truths and facts that can be later drawn out and discussed and applied. In this manner, I am adopting many concepts of classical education in our home (chronological history, memory work, etc) but also seeking to balance it with Charlotte Mason’s encouragement to keep learning fun and simple with a focus on nature, music, poetry, narration, and art.

Phonics – My first goal this year is to get my daughter launched in reading. We have started a few unsuccessful times to begin various Phonics programs this last year, but I soon realized it wasn’t worth it to push it too hard until she was more ready. So, this year we are going to start afresh. I am going to use Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons and Bob Books.

Memory Work – We will be memorizing one short poem each month, a passage of Scripture, importance facts (address, months of the year, etc), and Westminister Shorter Catechism phrases, along with reciting passages of Scripture before bedtime each night. Through repetition and simply reading these things to the kids, they can pick it up so fast. We recently memorized Psalms 23 simply by reading it every night before bed. It took 2 weeks and they had it down. Since we appreciate the approach of Classical Conversations, but have decided not to participate quite yet, we bought the Cycle 1 companion CD with all the memory work set to music. We will listen to this each week and try to memorize along the schedule.

Here is a free download of our Kindergarten memory work for this year (including catechism phrases, verses, basic personal facts and poems).

Bible & Character – We are currently using the ESV Illustrated Bible for our devotions before we start school each morning. This Bible takes specific portions of Scripture directly from the Bible with gorgeous illustrations. It is an awesome way to transition from storybooks to the full Bible. We love to listen to the dramatized Bible on CD while we travel around. A great way to plant the truth in their hearts through simple listening. We will also read the short stories about character qualities with A Child’s Book of Character Building.

History & Geography - We have returned to using the Sonlight Core A Kindergarten program this year. I cannot say enough about how much I love their materials. I love how learning is based in real books. I love the selection of books and the simplicity of having all the lessons mapped out for you. I found most of the books used through Exodus books or Amazon, in order to make it more doable with our budget, but I highly recommend their curriculum packages! Exodus Books is a wonderful local homeschool store that also sells online and they offer tons of used and new curriculum at great prices. We have chosen to just stick with the core curriculum and read-alouds.

We started the Sonlight Core A program about a month ago, and my kids love it (yes, my 3 year old loves sitting in with us too for most of it)! They are always begging for more! I love the Internet Linked Children’s Encylopedia included in this core, because it sends you to wonderful exploratory websites that include additional videos, games, and 3-D tours of different places around the world. I love how Sonlight includes quality poetry, narration practice with discussion questions, quality book choices (we just finished My Father’s Dragon trilogy – so fun!), and freedom to do whatever fits best for your family. We’ll also be reading the Story of the World Volume 1: Ancient Times by Susan Wise Bauer as a family during our read-aloud time on a couple evenings each week.

Science – My vision for science is to be out in nature and enjoying the beauty and wonder of creation with my kids especially during these elementary years. I want them to treasure being outdoors and getting a bigger view of the powerful God we serve as we explore together. I want to spend quality time out in nature with scavenger hunts and nature walks. We plan to use Nature Connection: An Outdoor Workbook for Kids, Families & Classrooms and create a Nature Journal for each of the kids with copies from this book in which we could draw various new observations from nature as well as record made up stories of things we find (I’ll be recording the stories that Karis tells me until she becomes more proficient in writing). This book has tons of ideas for exploring clouds, weather patterns, nature walks, and so much more. This will last many years as some of the activities are a bit more advanced. We will take the camera and let the kids take photos of things they find as well.

I will also be supplementing with the Christian Liberty Press Nature Reader K (an adorable little book that goes through the alphabet and shares extensively on different animals – A is for Alligator, etc), some of the Moody Science videos, Planet Earth, and a subscription to Big Backyard (an adorable nature magazine for kids 4-8, an awesome birthday gift!), and Nature Friend (a Christ centered creation based magazine). We will just do one of these activities each day, either nature journal, read, watch a video, or check out youtube videos about different animals we observe or read about.

Music – Since my former piano teaching days, I have been eager to begin lessons with my little ones. We will be doing some beginning piano lessons with Karis at home with Music for Little Mozarts curriculum. This is a very simple curriculum that any mommy could teach their kiddos with. I used it extensively with young children and had great success. We also use and love the Classical Kids CD series (which provide fun listening with classical music set in a story) and The Story of the Orchestra (take you on a journey through the instruments in an orchestra).

Copywork – We will be using Copywork I for our handwriting curriculum. I love how this resources uses Scripture as its basis, but also gives freedom to draw pictures and use the imagination.

Math – I’m super excited to read the fabulous reviews on the hands on Montessori based math called RightStart Math. It uses an abacus and tons of math games to make learning fun. We are starting with the Level A set. Ive never been excited about math until I read how this program works and how reviewers said their kids love math with this program. Really? I’m on it!

Since I also believe in establishing good critical thinking and logic skills, we are using Mind Benders Book 1 for a practical workbook on the subject. We also plan to get the game Zoologic for practical fun at this level.

Finally, we are always reading lots of good books! We use recommended list from the 1000 Classic Books list and pick up 10 or so titles every few weeks from our local library.

We will be maintaining a simple schedule that will be completely flexible and adjust as necessary as the year moves on. You can view what our schedule will look like this year here. I am excited to continue the journey of encouraging a love for learning and all the joys that come with the beauty of learning together with my little ones!

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Favorite Classic Children’s Books

Regina asked: I was wondering if you ever considered compiling a children’s reading resource list, putting together all of the children’s books you have or would recommend? It could include holiday themed books, faith building, educational, etc. I know that I would find it very helpful.

I have often heard it said that you can never have too many books. Books are such treasures to enjoy. But recently, the thought struck me that you certainly can have too many books, especially if you don’t read them. If you’re shelves are cluttered with tons of titles that are simply collecting dust, then maybe it is time to re-evaluate which ones really do deserve a place on your shelves. We recently did a serious purge with our children’s books. We wanted to keep the treasures and pass on the ones that were falling apart or never really interested the kids. If my children hadn’t grabbed for a title in who knows how long, we decided to say farewell. We currently keep just a small collection of 10-15 books in our living room, toy room, and the kids bedroom. And with a small collection the kids don’t get overwhelmed, and they actually get read and re-read!

I am one that prefers investing in the true classics that had stood the test of time and leave the others to be borrowed from our local library. We also like to buy books in collections, as they save space and money by combining multiple titles under one cover. So here are some of our favorite collections that are worth investing in:

The 20th Century Children’s Book Treasury - this compilation has over 44 classic stories that you’re kids will love in a hardcover book that will last!
Harper Collins Treasury of Picture Book Classics  - a smaller collection of 12 titles including Harold and the Purple Crayon, If You Give A Mouse a Cookie, Caps for Sale, and other fun treasures to enjoy.
The Complete Tales of Winnie the Pooh - all these lovable humorous tales of Winnie the Pooh in one volume.
Beatrix Potter The Complete Tales
Eloise Wilkins Stories – I love these adorably illustrated stories of little ones helping mommy, enjoying God’s creation, and so much more!
Tony Mitton Amazing Machines Collection - this set includes 10 small books for that little boy that loves machines and anything that moves! I absolutely love this set of books that are written in rhyme with great information on how these vehicles work. We recently bought these for my 3 year old Titus and he is in love. I was struggling to find books that interested him until I stumbled on this great collection for such a great price!
Arnold Lobel’s books – My kids can’t get enough of Arnold Lobel’s fun books! We love the Frog & Toad Treasury, in addition to Mouse Soup, Mouse Tales, Owl at Home, and his Mother Goose collection.
Mike Mulligan and More: Four Stories by Virginia Lee Burton - the best of Mike Mulligan, The Little House, and more.
The Little Bear Treasury - Little Bear was one of my favorites as a child.
Dr Seuss Beginner Book Collection - the best lovable Dr. Seuss!
P D Eastman’s Big Blue Book of Beginner Books - a fun collection with Go, Dog, Go!, Put Me in the Zoo, and others.

I am sure there are many more that you could add to this list of the children’s classics, but these are the ones we have most greatly enjoyed and highly recommend!

Recommended Reading List:

Here are some of the recommended classic reading lists that we have found helpful when ordering books from the library. I usually choose 10 titles every 2-3 week period between library visits.

Early Years Read Alouds – this compilation of recommended reading by Charlotte Mason has been my source for finding books for my toddler this past year. Great titles!

1000 Good Book List – this list has been extremely helpful in finding the true classics, picture books and otherwise, to read with our children. We’ve read through nearly all the primary level reading list with my 4 year old this past year and found them very suitable and enjoyable for her level.

Sonlight Reading Lists - I also have found the recommended reading for the various curriculum cores from Sonlight to be a great source for ideas for good quality books. You don’t have to use their curriculum to enjoy the wealth of good books here! I use their lists for many of our educational pursuits.

Here are a few posts from the archives:

Favorite Christian Literature for Ages 0-8 - our favorite Christian titles for your little ones!
Recommended Children’s Books for Christmas - the favorites for the holidays!
Recommended Children’s Books for Easter  - at the bottom of this post you will find a list of book recommendations for Easter

Please note: There are affiliate links in this post which we only use to share products that we truly love and recommend for your family. We receive a small percentage of each sale made through our links which we use to help support an orphan home in India and other ministries. 

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Making My Life a Little Easier…

It has been a challenging month at our home. From a bout with insomnia to multiple sick bugs. I am always thankful for the little ideas that the Lord graciously puts in my head for making my life a bit easier as I strive to faithfully manage my home and care for my children. When you are feeling stressed…don’t forget to simply pray for wisdom in how you might simplify your life. Our God cares even about the little mundane things in life. He is able to guide you and direct you to simple solutions for your every day needs. He is always gracious to give me little ideas and every little idea helps towards fulfilling the bigger picture of pursuing intentionality in every area of life. Here are just two little ways He guided me in making my life a bit easier this week…

Bring the dishes down to the kids level. I have an awkwardly designed kitchen that leaves me with very little lower cupboard space, so I finally determined to move my pantry stuff around a bit in order to give me a portion of the cupboard that I could move all my dishware and cups for storage. In this manner, the kids can now upload the dishwasher and put all the dishes away because it is all within their reach. This makes the unloading more of a manageable task for them. They can also set the table independently. So my 4 year old and 2 year old can fully participate in our kitchen management now.

Train the kiddos to wash their hands independently with a good step stool. We have had a tiny step stool for awhile now but it was nearly impossible for my littlest guy to wash his own hands independently. I would have to pick him up every time and often would be lazy and not do it at all. ;( Not a recommended practice. This week I found a tall step stool at IKEA for only $15. This stool enables the littlest child to wash their own hands. It also is tall enough for my daughter to help wash the dishes with me.

I love being able to equip my children to work independently and be little helpers at the same time. One less thing for this Mommy to do…;)

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A Homemade Family Christmas

Photo Credit: ktylerconk

Post by Contributing Writer, Michele of Frugal Granola

Part of the fun of Christmas preparations in our family is involving the little ones in making homemade gifts. Depending on their ages/abilities, the level of their contributions may vary, but they love the feeling of “being in on the surprise.”

It is so sweet to see a child’s joy of giving on Christmas morning, when they say “I made it just for you!” (On the occasion when they admit, “Mama/Daddy helped,” I just respond, “That’s what mommies/daddies are for! You did a wonderful job.” And they smile.)

Some children creatively think of gifts to make for members of the family on their own, while others may prefer an “assigned” project that you work on together. Here are some ideas that allow for little hands, to get you started.

The majority of these projects are intended to be done as a family/with a parent; savor the joy of Christmas together! Many of these gifts are also suitable for friends/neighbors or extended family; tailor it to your family’s gift-giving traditions.

Photo Credit: katerha

For Mama

Photo Credit: James Bowe

For Daddy

Photo Credit: Nico Paix

For Siblings

Gift-making can be a wonderful time of intentionally carving out some quality family time together, as well as practicing generosity for others. You’ll be establishing cherished traditions, valued character traits, and life-long memories!

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Treasured Christmas Books to Read with Little Ones

A special way we enjoy keeping our focus on the true meaning of Christmas is to stock up on a collection of fun meaningful Christmas storybooks. Each day we love to snuggle up with a book or two and focus our hearts again on the richness and joy of the season. As we continue to read and share with our children, the more they grow to understand the beauty of Christ’s birth. Each year we like to purchase a book or two to add to our Christmas storybook collection that we can draw out each year. This year we wrapped them up and including this special unveiling among our advent calendar activities.

Here are some of our favorite Christmas reads for the season:

The Legend of the Christmas Tree by Rick Osborne

The Legend of the Candy Cane by Lori Walburg

The Legend of the Christmas Stocking by Rick Osborne

The Story of St. Nicholas: More than Reindeer and A Red Suit by Voice of the Martyrs

The Three Gifts of Christmas by Jennie Bishop

The Tale of Three Trees by Angela Hunt

The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey by Susan Wojciechowski

The Pine Tree Parable by Liz Curtis Higgs

The Gift of the Magi by O Henry

The Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens (adapted picture book version)

The Candle In the Window by Grace Johnson

Jacob’s Gift by Max Lucado

One Wintry Night by Ruth Graham Belle

Christmas Carols for Kids Hearts by Sergio Martinez

Josie’s Gift by Kathleen Bostrom

We Believe in Christmas by Karen Kingsbury

The Indescribable Gift by Richard Exathlete

Song of the Stars by Sally Lloyd Jones (author of our favorite Jesus Storybook bible has created a fabulous story of the birth of Jesus)

The Town that Forgot about Christmas by Susan K. Leigh

What Star is This? By Joseph Slate

Want to add your favorites to the list?

Why not stop with me, pick up a book and read to your little ones today. It’s the best foundation for their education.

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Making a Creative Art Space

I’ve always been one that hates a mess of art supplies, so I have kept them tucked away high out of reach to prevent any disasters. I’m just not a crafty mommy…it is a stretch. What resulted was very infrequent art projects because of my own shortsightedness. I’ve learned that when things are not accessible or clearly visible for littles ones, they are rarely played with. Low and behold, I have a 4 year old daughter that loves crafty art projects!

Recently, I was inspired (thanks to Playful Learning & Not Just Cute) to arrange a little art center in an organized fashion that could be easily accessible for the kids to explore and inspire creativity to their hearts content. I have been so thrilled with the results! We arranged our new set up on a little kids’ table and stocked it with the following supplies:

Storage rack ($4.99 from IKEA) – storing construction paper, doodle books, watercolors, child scissors, glue, stickers
Metal plant pots (.79 each from IKEA) – markers, crayons, and colored pencils
Art smock (full body bib from IKEA) - hanging from nail on wall
Art boxes (basic pencil boxes) – one box is holding paints, another is storing an assortment of fun texture items (fabric scraps, felt, popcorn, beans, beads, and buttons)

I am planning to add this stamp set in their Christmas stockings! It is a simple enough arrangement that the kids can easily clean up after themselves and can engage with the supplies freely.

My four year old had made a collection of a dozen different works of art within an hour and keeps going back for more!

Comments { 33 }

Simple Seasonal Family Traditions

Post by Contributing Writer, Michele Augur of Frugal Granola

As a family, we cherish each new season. Our children love the familiar rhythm of knowing what to expect and savoring the many delights of each season.

We like to keep a handful of seasonal traditions that are easy to schedule into our busy lives, as well as easy on the budget. (There are also a few “special extras” when possible.) Now that our oldest child is almost five, she has quite a memory bank of these traditions, and doesn’t let us forget!

Also, whenever we’re expecting a new baby, we let our children know in “seasonal terms” when they can expect the newest arrival. (Our summer baby came “when it was hot and sunny, after the blueberries, with the zucchini and tomatoes, and before the corn.” Our spring baby is expected “near the end of the snow, when the spring rains come, the crocuses bloom, and the green buds appear.”)

Here are some of our family’s favorites:

Photo Credit: ollesvensson

Autumn

Right now, we are entering into the autumn season of fall leaves, garden harvests, and cooler nights (probably our favorite time of year; at least for my husband & I).

  • Wild Blackberry and/or Huckleberry-Picking
  • Hiking in the Woods (It’s nice to get out in the clear fresh air, even if it’s a bit rainy!)
  • Baked Apple and/or Popcorn Nights
  • Gathered Leaf Crafts (such as leaf rubbings, garlands, “bouquets” on the table, etc.) We just completed a fun Leaf Pounding project (printing onto muslin fabric on top of a board- instead of cardboard); even our 2-year-old got in on the hammering!
  • A Fall Camping Trip (usually at the beach)- Campsites are usually less crowded in the fall, you can see the stars in the darker evenings, and it’s cozy by the campfire! (We’ve also gotten together with other family members and rented an affordable beach house together, since it’s the “off” season.)
  • Attending an Apple & Pear Harvest Festival/Farmer’s Market and/or U-Pick Farms
  • Treats of Hot Spiced Cider, Applesauce, or Creamy Pear Pie (a “mandatory” dish at our big family Thanksgiving dinner gatherings!)
  • Cream Cheese Pumpkin Muffins on Thanksgiving morning
  • Pumpkin Waffles for breakfasts (can also use some cooked squash)

Photo Credit: hello-julie

Winter

We have a few winter birthdays in our family, plus our wedding anniversary, in addition to the other holidays, so this season is very celebratory for us!

  • Advent and the Twelve Days of Christmas activities
  • St. Nicholas Day
  • Snow Angels and Snowmen
  • Occasionally, attending a performance of The Nutcracker (a children’s theater or a matinee is often more affordable, and a more manageable showing time for little ones)
  • Homemade Gingerbread Cake or Molasses Cookies
  • Mint Hot Chocolate
  • Listening to a Handel’s “Messiah” CD or DVD
  • Participating in our church’s Children’s Christmas Play/Musical
  • Seafood Christmas Dinner (often a simple Crab Quiche)
  • A Christmas Tea Party and/or New Year’s Open House
  • Decorating with “bouquets” of fresh holly & greenery (or homemade wreaths)
  • A drive or walk to see Christmas lights and/or Caroling
  • Homemade Gifts and/or Ornaments
  • Handmade Valentines

Photo Credit: EvelynGiggles

Spring

  • Starting Garden Seeds and early Spring plantings
  • Occasionally we’ve been able to attend a community “Easter Sunrise Church Service”
  • Spring bouquets of fragrant daffodils and crocuses
  • Listening to the many little frogs at the creek
  • Reading about St. Patrick
  • Picking Nettles
  • Meals of fresh, green asparagus, new leafy greens, or just-picked rhubarb
  • Puddle Jumping and Walks with Umbrellas
  • A Mother’s Day camping trip (usually at the beach); typically a less-crowded weekend before the summer crowds and hot weather arrive
  • Board Game Nights
  • Nature Walks/Hikes
  • Making Butter from grass-fed raw milk (late spring/into summer)
  • Star-Gazing on clear evenings

Photo Credit: JustyCinMD

Summer

  • Bonfires and Barbecues
  • Early Garden Harvests & Later Plantings
  • Swimming/Wading in a shady creek or river
  • A Backyard Camp-Out in the Tent
  • Bouquets of Roses and Wildflowers
  • Berry Smoothies or Blueberry Cake for Breakfasts (I know some of you live in climates where you actually get strawberries in the spring; but ours aren’t ready until at least June!)
  • More Butter-Making from grass-fed raw milk
  • Attending Farmer’s Markets
  • Lavender Desserts (such as cookies or souffles)
  • Making Lavender Sachets for adding to laundry or bed pillows
  • Gathering Herbs & Preparing Remedies
  • Ice Cream Sundae Parties
  • Picnics on the lawn
  • Jars of Sun Tea

Did you see some of your favorites on the list? What are your family’s traditions?

Comments { 11 }

Q & A’s for Mission-Minded Families: HOMESCHOOLING

by monthly contributor, Ann Dunagan, of Harvest Ministry

This month marks the beginning of our family’s 21st year of homeschooling. It’s because of God’s grace that we’ve been in this adventure for over two decades; and it’s only by God’s grace that I can confidently say, “We’re still in it for the long-haul!”

On this theme, Lindsay had a few questions:


Q. LINDSAY @ PASSIONATE HOMEMAKING:  What was your original vision and goal for choosing to homeschool your children, and how have you kept that vision burning for over 20 years?

A. ANN @ MISSION-MINDED FAMILIES:  I became intrigued with homeschooling during college, as I was studying Elementary Education. During this time, as Jon and I were also preparing for marriage, I read a book called The Way Home, by Mary Pride, which challenged me — big-time — about God’s purposes for homemaking, motherhood, and home education. As I completed my student teaching, I observed how a student who had been absent (for even 2-3 weeks) could quickly “catch-up” with the rest of the class with only a few days of 1-on-1 tutoring, causing me to question the time-effectiveness of a typical classroom. Later, as newlyweds, Jon and I led several youth mission trips. On these teams, we observed a huge contrast between the peer-orientation (and worldliness) of many public (and even Christian-) school kids, compared to the parent-orientation (and spiritual depth) of many homeschooled kids. Sometimes, the homeschooled parent-and-teen similarities were so strong, it was funny; but it showed us homeschooling’s discipleship potential.

For our family, it’s God’s call.

As for long-term vision, “Whenever God CALLS, He gives grace to COMPLETE.” I love the song, “His grace is enough . . . ” and the hymn, “Though none go with me, still I will follow . . . ”

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